Why wait until year end for a top 10 list?

After months of testing and analysis at Marketing CoPilot, we want to share 10 important observations of 2012. Many of these things we have talked about before but as they are the cornerstone of a online strategy that delivers measurable business results, they are worth mentioning again in our annual Top 10 list.

Marketing Mistake #1. Not having a clear strategy.

The revolution of the web means that the way you go to market, the structure of your offering, the model of your business–these are sufficient to cause you to lose, regardless of how you play the game, Seth Godin.

In other words, think about your strategy first and then apply it to the web. Don’t build a website just because you have a bunch of product information to post and think that you’ll win online.

Example: Walmart’s founder, Sam Walton was a huge success largely because he developed a new retail strategy, not because he was better at running a store than anyone else. Many companies seem to forget that a ‘me-too’ strategy offline is also a ‘me-too’ strategy online and is more painfully obvious. Adwords, email campaign, SEO don’t change this and make it easier to market online. In fact, it’s tougher because you have less than 8 seconds on your home page to clearly and succinctly explain why someone should buy from you. B2B companies need to get smarter about defining their strategy before they launch marketing tactics.

Marketing Mistake #2. Not understanding who is buying from you and why.Oops B2B Marketing Mistakes

If I had a dollar for every B2B CEO who told me: Our target is SMB (small and medium-sized business),” I’d be rich. What they are really saying is, “our target is anyone”. A company with $500K in revenue and $100M are both technically part of the SMB category but they have nothing in common and require very different business solutions.

When you aren’t clear about who is buying from you and why, you are just ‘spraying and praying’. Sending out the same message to everyone and hoping something sticks rarely pays off. The unforgiving math of the funnel suggests that this lack of targeting will cost you more time and money than ever before and your conversion rate will be very poor. If your ideal customer does not see themselves reflected in the message on your website, they’re gone in the blink of an eye. Make your content relevant and have a laser focus on who you want to buy from you from you and why. Start by downloading our web presence customer scorecard.

Marketing Mistake #3. Not understanding keywords.

We have developed a new program at Marketing CoPilot to help business owners figure out their keyword strategy. The most common mistake we see people make is misunderstanding keywords at the start of the Buying Process. Here’s a great example:

  • If you sell leadership training solutions, you’ll think your best keyword is ‘leadership training’ and it may very well be when you are in the selling process. But this assumes that someone knows that the solution to their business problem is to get people trained. What if people don’t yet know that a lack of leadership skills at the middle management level is their problem? Hence, they won’t yet know that leadership training is the solution and won’t be searching for that keyword.
  • What if I wrote a post called, “Are project managers impeding your ability to execute strategically?” and focused on the idea that tactical execution often overshadows a manager’s ability to think strategically and that thinking strategically is about understanding leadership. Perhaps the keyword here is moving managers from tactical to strategic execution.
  • If I socialized my content correctly and shared it in various groups and forums where people were considering this question, the next thing they would do is search for this content and arrive at my site at the START of their buying process, not mid-way through comparing what I have to offer to alternative leadership training solutions in the marketplace.

Sometimes your best keywords reside in blog content when someone is at the beginning of the search process.

We designed this handy keyword strategy doodle to help people think in broader terms than just the product or service for sale.

Marketing Mistake #4. Not having a clearly defined content marketing plan.

Content may be king but context is everything. Tossing up content on your website only works if you have put it in context for your best customer.

Example: Being able to download a product brochure from your website is only relevant to someone after they have purchased your product. Where you should spend your time and effort is in understanding their business goals. Creating a 12 month calendar of commonly asked questions they seek to understand in the buying process is context that drives interest, engagement and conversion. Build a plan to solve this problem before you layer anything else from a tactical perspective onto your web presence.

Marketing Mistake #5. Not measuring anything.

Would you hire a sales rep and not speak to them for a year? No, you would not. You would be working with them constantly to assess their pipeline and close rate. So why do so many companies not bother to assess their Google Analytics or look at metrics to see what is working with respect to online tactics?

We will be releasing a How Do I… Guide in the next few weeks focused on how to use Google Analytics data to make better business decisions.  Subscribe to our email list to be the first to get a copy.

Marketing Mistake #6. Not being consistent.

I love this line: “We tried that and it didn’t work.”

My next questions are:

  • How often did you try it?
  • How consistently did you execute?
  • How did you measure it (see #5)?

It takes five to seven repetitions of any given tactic to get someone to pay attention and see if it works.

Think about this in your own life, how many times do you need to see something relevant before you take action? So why do you think sending out an email newsletter once a quarter will have a big impact on lead generation and lead nurturing?

The conclusion we have reached at Marketing CoPilot is what we call the “Law of 12″. It seems to take 12 repetitions of anything to get traction and 12 months to see if it sticks. There are no silver bullets here – sorry about that.

Marketing Mistake #7. Thinking quantity is better than quality.

There aren’t thousands of leads out there waiting to hit your website just because you implemented an SEO or PPC campaign. So instead of thinking thousands of friends on Facebook or followers on Twitter will matter to your business, think about quality versus quantity. Would you rather have a consistent database of 1,000 people who open your emails, refer business to you and know it’s because of your well crafted and well optimized content? Or, do you want to hit a gigantic database with product promotions, generating poor open rates and marking you as spam? Even when you do get a hit, they are not the right fit for your business. Quality and quantity are two very different strategies in their execution, so pick one.

Marketing Mistake #8. Thinking that online marketing is an unconnected series of tactics and not a systemized process in your business.

The 2012 B2B Benchmark Guide from MarketingSherpa had some outstanding data about the success of singular marketing tactics but the ultimate conclusion is that there is no one silver bullet and even offline marketing tactics need to tie back to your website and the user experience of how someone looks at your company.

For example, there has long been a debate amongst marketers about whether purchasing Adwords, affects your organic search ranking. Google vehemently says no, but we see in the MarketingSherpa research that:

PPC is a great way to analyze traffic potential, although we don’t recommend it as a marketing tool in itself, PPC does compliment SEO. The more real estate a company commands on a search engine results page, the better the recognition, trust and ultimately clicks it will receive. PPC can help bolster SEO results and increase traffic to your website.

To this point, we created the Integrated Find Customers-Keep Customers Process Wheel this year to address this. NO one solution works on its own anymore.

Marketing Mistake #9. Thinking you can figure Google out on your own.

I applaud anyone who has Google Analytics running on their website. It is one of the best tools out there to understand what is happening on your website. Google data is important in helping us understand what matters to visitors on a website and is an important way to test a value proposition and conversion tactics. But Google is a beast. One day it’s your friend; the next it’s your foe. You need a guide (maybe a CoPilot), to help you sort through the data and make decisions.

Example: This year we saw Google flip-flop on the idea that keyword specific URLs were better for getting on Page One. Twelve months ago, if I owned the URL www.commericalcleaningservices (.) com as my primary website, there was a pretty good chance that anyone searching for commercial cleaning services would see me on Page One, if not in the #1 spot. Today, maybe not so much. When Google changes their mind about something (as they recently did on direct match keyword URLs), it can seriously jeopardize your marketing strategy. Having someone who is is constantly monitoring changes in Google and how they impact your web presence, is a very sound investment.

Marketing Mistake #10. Thinking that marketing is going to get easier and cheaper because of ‘free’ tools.

Social media, Google, email, texting, mobile, these did not make the job of the marketer easier. It made it harder. The barriers to entry because of these tools and tactics might be lower but the complexity has dramatically increased. I am constantly being asked: “Should I be using social media to generate leads in my business?”. I think the reason business owners are most concerned about social media is that it appears to be a tool that gets the most noise. At first blush, it seems to be the one that is cheap and easy to use. But beware of the allure without thinking through your complete online strategy (see #8).

Marketing CoPilot Focus for 2013

The goal at Marketing CoPilot for 2013 is for us to continue to be seen as a useful guide and resource for people struggling with marketing issues in their business. We have worked hard in the last 12 months to identify topics and guides that we think will aid you in your online journey. This is a marathon not a sprint, so strap in, grab a coffee or two and dedicate a chunk of your month to reading our content. December 2012 to February 2013 will be dedicated to understanding website data to make better business decisions. February to April 2013 will be about better content marketing for your business. Stay tuned…

Cheers and Happy Marketing in 2013!